Survey Finds PSAPs Concerned on System Downtime (2/12/14)
Wednesday, February 12, 2014 | Comments

A new survey found that system downtime continues to be a significant issue for public-safety answering points (PSAPs), potentially resulting in anywhere from 2 to 57 dropped 9-1-1 calls per hour depending on the size and call volume of the PSAP.

Virtualization is one approach that PSAPs are considering to consolidate and drive efficiencies, and 51 percent of survey respondents said that they have already, or are planning to virtualize their applications. However, the results also indicate that virtualization is not solving the availability challenge.

The findings were from a Stratus Technologies survey that examined the viewpoints of more than 900 public-safety professionals across North America on topics such as systems outages, staffing, next-generation 9-1-1 (NG 9-1-1) migration, use of virtualization technologies and more.

The NG 9-1-1 initiative to update and improve the country’s 9-1-1 infrastructure will bring an increasing amount of complexity to PSAP IT infrastructures, put even more strain on PSAP systems and further increase the need for availability solutions. This added complexity comes at a time when PSAPs are expected to do more with less — reduced budgets, fewer resources and less IT expertise, a statement said.

"PSAPs deal with emergencies 24/7/365, and system downtime should not be one of them,” said Dave LeClair, senior director of strategy, Stratus Technologies. “If a PSAP application is down, even for a few minutes, it can have alarming consequences. It’s not just a question of delays in response times; it could, in many instances, result in loss of lives.”

About 70 percent of emergency centers have experienced system downtime in the past year, and 16 percent of those experienced five or more outages. The survey found 58 percent of outages lasted at least 15 minutes; 28 percent of outages lasted more than one hour.

Nearly 60 percent of survey respondents plan to implement NG 9-1-1 upgrades in the next year. Of the centers planning to virtualize, 70 percent plan to virtualize their critical applications. Nearly 20 percent of respondents don’t have a disaster recovery or contingency plan in place in case of a catastrophic outage, and 20 percent of respondents don’t have a secondary location in case of an outage or natural disaster.

The second annual survey was conducted from October to December 2013. An infographic for the survey results is available here.

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